Amid the COVID-19 pandemic we have made the sudden transition to work remotely for the first time. While some folks had working hours extended, others experienced furloughs and started job searching remotely. These circumstances have blurred the lines between work and non-work in new and unusual ways. Drawing lines between our professional and personal lives is critical, especially for our mental well-being.
If you are among the many that struggle to “leave work at the door” while we are no longer going out the door, here are some ways to combat WFH burnout.
1.Observe & Reflect: Pay attention to your behaviors or patterns of thinking during your typical work day. Burnout can mess with your mind, generating thought patterns that make you feel like you are not doing enough in your day. Self-reflection is an effective step in understanding and finding ways towards healthier patterns of productivity.
-Nonstop work: The pressure of remote work or job searching can feel nonstop. It can be especially difficult to unplug when your office is also your kitchen table or living room. But intentionally incorporating a scheduled lunch break or an at-home workout, empowers the practice of time management and self-care.
-Social media feeds: Before remote work, you might have broken up the intensity of the workday by taking a coffee break, or chatting with a colleague. Nowadays, social media may seem like an obvious replacement. But scrolling through feeds can actually contribute to our daily stress levels. Setting time limits on certain apps may offer you some balance in your day-to-day routine.
2. Boundaries: Working from home means the office can easily seep into your life and make you feel totally unhinged. Now that you’re mindfully engaged in observing behaviors, identify those that are tipping the scale towards exhaustion.
-Virtual meetings: Zoom fatigue is real and at times can feel unavoidable. If you’re not able to cut down on the number of meetings you have, try giving yourself ample time and space to decompress after each one by creating a WFH commute. Let your legs take over your brain by taking a neighborhood walk before signing back online. Listening to podcasts or audiobooks can serve as a transition between work, a brain break, and your personal life.
-End of the day ritual: Despite working a flexible schedule, you need reminders to help you move between the different states of your day in order to focus on what is in front of you. Some examples to end your day can be closing all browser tabs or setting your phone on airplane mode as you prepare and cook dinner. In the end, the ritual themselves do not matter as much as what they mean to you.
Seeking help from a mental health professional can provide assistance when you are feeling that your coping strategies are no longer enough. As burnout can happen to anyone, remember to be compassionate and celebrate your efforts and not only your outcomes.
Lindsay Enright, MS, LCMFT provides couple, family, and individual therapy in our downtown Bethesda, MD office and online to those in Maryland. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Lindsay!